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Crowd Process Design : How to coordinate crowds to solve complex problems


De Boer, Patrick. Crowd Process Design : How to coordinate crowds to solve complex problems. 2017, University of Zurich, Faculty of Economics.

Abstract

The Internet facilitates an on-demand workforce, able to dynamically scale up and down depending on the requirements of a given project. Such crowdsourcing is increasingly used to engage workers available online. Similar to organizational design, where business processes are used to organize and coordinate employees, so-called crowd processes can be employed to facilitate work on a given problem. But as with business processes, it is unclear which crowd process performs best for a problem at hand. Aggravating the problem further, the impersonal, usually short-lived, relationship between an employer and crowd workers leads to major challenges in the organization of (crowd-) labor in general.
In this dissertation, we explore crowd process design. We start by finding a crowd process for a specific use case. We then outline a potential remedy for the more general problem of finding a crowd process for any use case.
The specific use case we focus on first, is an expert task, part of the review of statistical validity of research papers. Researchers often use statistical methods, such as t-test or ANOVA, to evaluate hypotheses. Recently, the use of such methods has been called into question. One of the reasons is that many studies fail to check the underlying assumptions of the employed statistical methods. This results in a threat to the statistical validity of a study and hampers the reuse of results. We propose an automated approach for checking the reporting of statistical assumptions. Our crowd process identifies reported assumptions in research papers achieving 85% accuracy.
Finding this crowd process took us more than a year, due to the trial-and-error approach underlying current crowd process design, where in some cases a candidate crowd process was not reliable enough, in some cases it was too expensive, and in others it took too long to complete. We address this issue in a more generic manner, through the automatic recombination of crowd processes for a given problem at hand based on an extensible repository of existing crowd process fragments. The potentially large number of candidate crowd processes derived for a given problem is subjected to Auto-Experimentation in order to identify a candidate matching a user’s performance requirements. We implemented our approach as an Open Source system and called it PPLib (pronounced “People Lib”). PPLib is validated in two real-world experiments corresponding to two common crowdsourcing problems, where PPLib successfully identified crowd processes performing well for the respective problem domains.
In order to reduce the search cost for Auto-Experimentation, we then propose to use black-box optimization to identify a well-performing crowd process among a set of candidates. Specifically, we adopt Bayesian Optimization to approximate the maximum of a utility function quantifying the user’s (business-) objectives while minimizing search cost. Our approach was implemented as an extension to PPLib and validated in a simulation and three real-world experiments.
Through an effective means to generate crowd process candidates for a given problem by recombination and by reducing the entry barriers to using black-box optimization for crowd process selection, PPLib has the potential to automate the tedious trial-and-error underlying the construction of a large share of today’s crowd powered systems. Given the trends of an ever more connected future, where on-demand labor likely plays a key role, an efficient approach to organizing crowds is paramount. PPLib helps pave the way to an automated solution for this problem.

Abstract

The Internet facilitates an on-demand workforce, able to dynamically scale up and down depending on the requirements of a given project. Such crowdsourcing is increasingly used to engage workers available online. Similar to organizational design, where business processes are used to organize and coordinate employees, so-called crowd processes can be employed to facilitate work on a given problem. But as with business processes, it is unclear which crowd process performs best for a problem at hand. Aggravating the problem further, the impersonal, usually short-lived, relationship between an employer and crowd workers leads to major challenges in the organization of (crowd-) labor in general.
In this dissertation, we explore crowd process design. We start by finding a crowd process for a specific use case. We then outline a potential remedy for the more general problem of finding a crowd process for any use case.
The specific use case we focus on first, is an expert task, part of the review of statistical validity of research papers. Researchers often use statistical methods, such as t-test or ANOVA, to evaluate hypotheses. Recently, the use of such methods has been called into question. One of the reasons is that many studies fail to check the underlying assumptions of the employed statistical methods. This results in a threat to the statistical validity of a study and hampers the reuse of results. We propose an automated approach for checking the reporting of statistical assumptions. Our crowd process identifies reported assumptions in research papers achieving 85% accuracy.
Finding this crowd process took us more than a year, due to the trial-and-error approach underlying current crowd process design, where in some cases a candidate crowd process was not reliable enough, in some cases it was too expensive, and in others it took too long to complete. We address this issue in a more generic manner, through the automatic recombination of crowd processes for a given problem at hand based on an extensible repository of existing crowd process fragments. The potentially large number of candidate crowd processes derived for a given problem is subjected to Auto-Experimentation in order to identify a candidate matching a user’s performance requirements. We implemented our approach as an Open Source system and called it PPLib (pronounced “People Lib”). PPLib is validated in two real-world experiments corresponding to two common crowdsourcing problems, where PPLib successfully identified crowd processes performing well for the respective problem domains.
In order to reduce the search cost for Auto-Experimentation, we then propose to use black-box optimization to identify a well-performing crowd process among a set of candidates. Specifically, we adopt Bayesian Optimization to approximate the maximum of a utility function quantifying the user’s (business-) objectives while minimizing search cost. Our approach was implemented as an extension to PPLib and validated in a simulation and three real-world experiments.
Through an effective means to generate crowd process candidates for a given problem by recombination and by reducing the entry barriers to using black-box optimization for crowd process selection, PPLib has the potential to automate the tedious trial-and-error underlying the construction of a large share of today’s crowd powered systems. Given the trends of an ever more connected future, where on-demand labor likely plays a key role, an efficient approach to organizing crowds is paramount. PPLib helps pave the way to an automated solution for this problem.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Dissertation
Referees:Bernstein Abraham, Cudré-Mauroux Philippe
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Informatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:09 Jan 2018 14:52
Last Modified:19 Mar 2018 09:38
OA Status:Green
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:15635

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